2023-2024 / PSYC0061-1

Animal cognition


30h Th

Number of credits

 Master in psychology (120 ECTS)3 crédits 


André Ferrara

Language(s) of instruction

French language

Organisation and examination

Teaching in the first semester, review in January


Schedule online

Units courses prerequisite and corequisite

Prerequisite or corequisite units are presented within each program

Learning unit contents

In 2022/23, we will examine several issues related to the use of behavioral and cognitive tests commonly used in ethology and behavioral neuroscience.

After having drawn up an overview of the tests used to study learning and memory but also anxiety in laboratory animals, we will focus on a memory test (object recognition test) and an anxiety test (elevated more maze).

A guided reading work will concern the use of these two tests in the context of the evaluation of the effect of the moment of the test on the behavior and cognition of the laboratory animal with in perspective the question of the validity of the tests. but also that of ethics in animal research.

We will look at very concrete questions like:

  • What strategy to adopt to correctly assess behavior, cognition or emotion?
  • What are the different types of validity and reliability that must be taken into account to promote reproducible research and the validity of the conclusions that result from it?
  • What behavioral measures should be used to make scientific inferences about cognition?

Learning outcomes of the learning unit

Being able to draw up the theoretical context of the chosen issue. Ultimately, there is for the psychologist, an issue needing a behavioral and/or a cognitive assessment. How the assessment is practically realized in animal subjects? How are the behavioral aspects operationaly measured? Which inferences can we make on cognition from the observed behavior?
Know how to consider the advantages and pitfalls of a behavioral and cognitive test.
Being able to present an experimental design and understand its pros and cons.  

Prerequisite knowledge and skills

Planned learning activities and teaching methods

Oral presentation and or written report to write from personal readings and seminar discussions.

Mode of delivery (face to face, distance learning, hybrid learning)

Attendance at the seminar is mandatory.

Recommended or required readings

The bibliographical research constitutes the first step of this work.

Written work / report

Additional information:

In consultation with the teacher, elaboration of an oral presentation and/or realization of a written report.
Namely evaluation of the quality of :

  • the definition and presentation of the chosen issue.
  • the definition of the various assessed behavioural and cognitive aspects (taking into account the potential difficulties and pitfalls).
  • putting on the white coat of the researcher, the ability to formulate an experimental strategy.
  • participation in the seminar.
Write a report (see eCampus for further details) dealing with the implementation of the ORT test, the issue of concordance between observers and general conclusion regarding the data collected.

Work placement(s)

Organisational remarks and main changes to the course

For scientific articles used for the seminar as well as for details of complementary learning objectives, see eCampus.
Report to be submitted by December 31 (1st session) August 15 (2nd session) at the latest.


Ferrara André (04/366.22.32 - a.ferrara@uliege.be ).

Association of one or more MOOCs